Culture and Recreation


What were Voltaire’s beliefs?

The prolific French writer’s corpus of 52 works were produced as part of his lifelong effort to expose injustices. Voltaire’s famous words, “Ecrasez l’infame” (squash that which is evil), encapsulate his tenets: He believed in God, but abhorred priestly (high church) traditions; he spread the doctrines of rational skepticism to the world; he strongly advocated religious and political tolerance; and he held great faith in humankind’s ability to strive for perfection. To the European literary world, he embodied the highest ideal of the Age of Reason (also called the Enlightenment). But victims of his wit feared and denigrated him. Celebrated by some during his lifetime, he has certainly been celebrated since. His masterpiece, Candide (1759), a satirical tale exploring the nature of good and evil, has been translated into more than 100 languages.


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